“The people doing the work in the classroom are the people doing the learning in the classroom. Those people should be the students, not the teachers.”
While at the TCEA conference, I was able to attend a session by Catlin Tucker. She is a secondary English teacher, and a published author, from California. She talked a lot about the amount of work that is being done by teachers and how that has to change. She used the quote above that really stuck with me.
She went on to say that teachers are doing way more work than we should be. The students, as the learners, should be the ones doing the work. One of the ideas she shared was about making parent communication easier while having students taking ownership of their responsibilities. She has her students email parents about assignments and other issues that arise in the classroom. One of the stipulations is that they also have to CC her in the email. This helps ensure that students own up to their work.
She does provide a template for the students if they would like to use one. Below is an example she shared with us as to what an email may look like for a student who is behind or struggling with their work:
Dear Mom and Dad,
In English we are working on [insert the name of the assignment]. I am supposed to be [target for the class]. Currently, I am [state progress]. My plan for catching up is [insert action plan with completion dates].
She does not only have them email with issues, however. To keep parents and students motivated she also has them email with positive news. Here is an example:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Today in English I had a one on one session with [insert teacher name]. He/she asked me to send you an update on my progress. I’ve demonstrated significant growth in [state specific skill/area]. I plan to continue [state next steps for growth OR new area of focus]>
I really like this idea! As I stated before, it creates a situation where students are taking ownership of their responsibilities, or it allows them a chance to share a success story with their parents. Both of these situations address TA TEKS strand 2: Communication and Collaboration, as students must communicate effectively and they sure should know their audience!
This idea also takes some of this communication off the teacher’s plate, freeing up some time for another endeavor. Give it a try with your students. Hopefully you will see growth on their end and buy back some time on yours.
To learn more about Catlin Tucker:
Image taken from https://catlintucker.com/